Summary: No one has ever regretted establishing a guardrail—ever—but there are plenty of us and there are plenty of people who look back and wish that they had.
We’re starting this brand new series, Guardrails, and if you can’t remember the name of
the series—this should be unforgettable. We’re pretty excited about this. Now, everybody knows
what a guardrail is, but you probably don’t know the official definition of a guardrail. And for
those of you who are kind of grammar people, who are going to get really messed up with this
whole series, let me go ahead and tell you—guardrail can be two words, and it can be one word,
okay? So, if you thought it was one or the other, we can work it both ways. In fact, in our
literature, we use it both ways just to make everybody happy and bother everybody.
A guardrail is actually a system designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous
or off-limit areas. Got that? A guardrail—you use them all the time, you’ve been impacted—
they’re simply a system, this entire system, designed to keep vehicles from straying (that’s the
word we’re going to key off of), from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas. Now, again,
nobody pays attention to guardrails unless you need one. There are all different kinds of
guardrails. We were going to show you a whole bunch of different kinds of pictures, but it’s kind
of irrelevant. Guardrails are that invisible part of our driving experience. We’re glad they’re
there when we need them, but for the most part, we pay no attention to them. You generally find
guardrails in one of three areas. You find guardrails on bridges, because on a bridge there’s very,
very little margin for error. You find them on bridges. You also find them in medians, in medians
to keep us from, in areas of driving, where we’re very, very close to people moving in the
opposite direction. The closer we are to people who are moving in the opposite direction, the
more we need protection. The third area where you find guardrails, specifically, is around
curves—unexpected changes in roadside conditions.
Now the really interesting thing about guardrails, and again this is what we’re going to
kind of key off of in this series, is that, generally speaking, guardrails are not actually located in
the most dangerous part of the road. Guardrails are actually located and constructed in areas
where you could actually drive, if you think about it. The point of a guardrail isn’t to say, don’t
drive on this particular piece of real estate. The point of a guardrail is it’s the piece of real estate
just beyond the guardrail that’s a point of danger: oncoming traffic, curves, mountainsides, edges
of bridges, or whatever it might be. So, generally speaking, guardrails are actually constructed in
areas where theoretically and actually you could drive, but guardrails are there to keep us from
moving into an area where there’s actual danger.
But when it comes to guardrails, nobody really argues the point and says, Hey, I don’t
know why they put guardrails around the edge of the bridge. They need to take the guardrails